I've just received a reply from RMS clarifying this statement:
Proprietary software is restricted by EULAs, not just by copyright, and
the users don't have the source code. Even if copyright permits
noncommercial sharing, the EULA may forbid it.
I won't quote his private correspondence, but I will quote my reply:
Now I understand.
Please excuse my oversight. It's been so long since I've had to actively
"accept" a license, that I'd quite forgotten that EULAs are actually
contracts, rather than just copyright notices, and therefore may
obligate the user to comply with anything they're foolhardy enough to
"agree" to. For example, with the GPL and many other licenses,
acceptance is not a condition for being bound by that license, and
therefore it is not a contract, so only copyright law applies.
Thank you very much for your response.
A software license agreement is a contract between a producer and a
purchaser of computer software that is included with software. The
license may define ways under which the copy can be used, in addition to
the automatic rights of the buyer including the first sale doctrine and
17 U.S.C. § 117 (freedom to use, archive, re-sale, and backup). These
documents often call themselves end-user license agreements (EULAs).
A important property of free software licenses is that they are not
contracts. Users of free software do not need to agree to the license in
order to simply use the software (only to copy or modify it).
| "The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which
| the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf
| denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty.
| Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of
| the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today
| among human creatures." ~ Abraham Lincoln
Fedora release 8 (Werewolf) on sky, running kernel 188.8.131.52-57.fc8
00:35:37 up 60 days, 4:33, 4 users, load average: 0.00, 0.03, 0.18